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The Value of Being a Socially Responsible Company


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a central part of business strategy.  This is a response to the fact that consumers are increasingly making buying decisions based on a company’s social and environmental impact.  Research by Cone Communications and Echo Research found that 90% of consumers worldwide are likely to switch to brands they believe support a good cause.

It also found that 90% of shoppers would be willing to boycott companies if they found the firms engaged in irresponsible business practices.  Recent boycotts include Nestle for the irresponsible handling of Flint’s poisoned water and making a profit from it, Wendy’s for fair pay, Amazon for working conditions and anti-tax lobbying, among plenty of others.

Companies without CSR risk losing customers, employees, stock value, and profits.  Consumers today expect more than a great product or service, they expect a great company whose values align with their own.  Social media has provided consumers with the ideal platform to voice their content or discontent with a company.  CSR can no longer be a public relations strategy, it should be part of a company’s DNA.

Deloitte believes the rise in CSR is due to the fact that people today have less trust in their political and social institutions, and they expect business leaders and companies to fill the gap.  Consumers are asking that companies take a stand or address challenges like climate change, global warming, women rights, poverty, equality, diversity, inclusion, LGBTQ, among others.  Businesses have to be able to align their corporate values with these challenges; businesses are faced with the responsibility to establish a new standard for how business is done.

According to McKinsey & Company, a worldwide management consulting firm, “corporate social responsibility encompasses dual objectives — pursuing benefits for the business and for society.”  These objectives and their impact can be local, regional, national, or global.  As founder of Shift Workspaces in Denver, which recently became a carbon neutral company and is in the process of becoming a certified B Corporation, I believe that it’s no longer valid to just be concerned with quarterly financial metrics, we must also consider how our businesses contribute to our communities and the environment.

Corporate Social Responsibility and social enterprises are the future of business.

Take for example Shift Workspaces, our main focus is on the customer, our vendors and employee happiness but we also promote volunteer hours, water conservation, electrical conservation, and maintaining a zero-carbon footprint.   These goals are all part of our journey to become a certified B-Corp.  The idea is that the company and all of its stakeholders should be equally able to reap the benefits of its operation.

In addition, we know that our own happiness and wellbeing is intertwined with that of others in our community.  We need to shift our focus beyond our own friends and families and authentically engage in solutions to the issues that are dividing our communities and in turn our nation.

The value and importance of CSR is that companies that are actively addressing social and environmental issues through its day to day activities are the same companies that are making a difference, the ones that stand out, and the ones that offer a unique company experience.

What’s good for the world, for the environment, and for the community is good for the company.  Being a socially responsible business helps engage customers, it builds customer and employee loyalty, it improves talent attraction and retention, and it increases a company’s overall social and financial value.

About the Author

Grant Barnhill

Grant has been thoughtfully managing, developing and investing in central Denver real estate for nearly 30 years. He is the Founder of Shift Workspaces, a shared workspace community committed to social stewardship, sustainability and an integrated view of commerce. Inspired by extensive foreign travel, each of his projects has honored the local flavor of Denver while weaving in elements of international art, architecture and culture.